SEO for SAAS: A Growth Secret
SEO for SAAS can often seem like a scary and expensive prospect. And because it takes a long time to actually work, you may not know easily whether your ideas are working or not. Also because SEO is a very vast topic, it may seem really daunting.
It is for that reason exactly that we have created this guide. By the end of this guide we hope to Leverage your team’s time and resources to implement the most effective SEO strategy. If you have any issues you can contact us for further explanations. Also feel free to skim and skip parts of this guide to get to the parts you are actually interested in. This article is organized into two key sections, an SEO masterclass and at the very end, we have included an actionable SEO strategy that you can implement today. You can use the table of contents for navigation.
Let us head over to the masterclass section
Let us talk about SEO. Specifically SEO for SAAS companies. The bottom line is that SEO works. If you look at a lot of the high-growth SaaS companies today most of them list SEO as a key driver of sales growth. SEO helps companies generate a lot of leads through the inbound channel.
Companies like HubSpot, Drift, and Intercom have leveraged SEO to generate millions of dollars in revenue. And the best part about SEO, it is that it’s relatively cheaper than other channels.
Let’s do a quick discussion on some of the benefits of SEO for SAAS companies. If you already know about the power of SEO you can skip this part. Alternatively, you can contact us here to learn more about how we approach SEO.
- 1 Benefits of SEO for Saas companies
- 2 SEO Jargon
- 3 Our Battle tested SEO Framework.
- 3.1 Keyword Research
- 3.1.1 USER Intent
- 3.1.2 Let us talk about the benefits of Keyword research first.
- 3.1.3 The difference between Keywords and Topics
- 3.1.4 Keyword Research Elements
- 3.1.5 How to research Keywords
- 3.1.6 So what are the best Keywords for SAAS SEO?
- 3.2 Technical Issues
- 3.3 Content Creation
- 3.4 Discovery
- 3.1 Keyword Research
- 4 SEO strategy
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQ
Benefits of SEO for Saas companies
So why should you as a Saas Company put a focus on SEO?
- It is an inexpensive way of spreading the word about your company
Building Saas products is expensive and time-consuming. Unfortunately after build your amazing product, no one knows about it yet. If you want to generate Revenue you have to get people to actually use your platform. This entails putting it in front of people. There are so many ways to get your product in front of your target audience. SEO is the most affordable option of them all. A well optimized website will generate tons of inexpensive organic traffic. Traffic which you can then leveraged drive yourself and usage of your platform.
This reduces dependence on paid traffic ads and leaves more money in your pocket for further research and development.
- Brand awareness
Another unexpected benefit is brand awareness. When a website pops up on Google search engine results page, the user gains familiarity with the brand. People are more likely to remember it. So even if they don’t click on it, the search engine result that is, they still get some form of awareness of your brand.
Now that we know some of the benefits of SEO in SAAS, let us discuss some key terms and terminologies. It’s okay if some of the terms make no sense to you, the key thing is to be aware of the words so that we can have an intellectual discussion about SEO. Don’t be scared of the jargon
|SERP||Type something on Google search and click search the page that you see is the SERP. In full it means the search engine result page.|
|Featured snippets||These are organic answer boxes that appear at the top of the SERP for certain queries|
|Crawling||This is the process by which search engines discover and learn about your amazing website|
|Indexing||This is essentially the Sorting and organizing of content after Google crawls the website|
|Organic Ranking||When you appear on the search engine result page naturally without paying for ads|
|Ranking||Essentially ordering search engine results according to relevance to query|
|Algorithm||Process or Formula which determines ranking order of search engine result items|
|Keyword||The query that are user types on the Google Search form in a bid to get information|
|Snippet||The title and description preview that Google or any other search engine displays Search engine result page|
Now that we have gotten that out of the way I hope that we are building some familiarity with regards to SEO.
Our Battle tested SEO Framework.
Before we get to discussing SEO strategy, we need to understand how SEO applies to Saas companies. To do this we need to first look at the Saas business model.
In this model a customer is charged recurring fee for access to a software or platform. The platform can be online that is hosted on the internet or a download on a local machine. Generally Saas products are intangible. Different versions or verticals of the platform or software can be created to serve different markets. This model lends itself brilliantly to SEO. because a lot of software is hosted online, the traffic that is coming to your site can be leveraged to drive usage of your software/SAAS.
We have developed a framework that we have applied for all our SAAS clients. The framework itself is ludicrously simple, we would forgive you for thinking that there’s a catch somewhere. But there is no catch. Just a battle tested concept.
It involves four steps
- Keyword Research
- Technical Issues
- Content Creation
These four steps simplify our approach to SAAS SEO. Let us discuss each item in detail.
As mentioned in the table above, a keyword is the query or term a user inputs on the Google search. A user would normally input the SAAS product or problem description and wait on Google for results. There are very many ways people use keywords. I have alluded to just two, searching for the specific item of interest or stating the problem. There are others. As such, it is important to understand one key concept, USER INTENT.
The entire premise behind user intent is to try and predict the sort of result the user wants to see. As such this forms the backbone of keyword research. Also it forms the basis of the next step content creation. This is because we want to create content that the user actually wants. But more on this later.
Let us talk about the benefits of Keyword research first.
Let us have a short discussion on the benefits of keyword research and why you should not skip this step.
A well conducted research on keywords can give you valuable insights into incoming and current trends. This data will help you adjust not just your content, but even your entire business USP in some cases. It is not uncommon for a SAAS company to change its core USP due to the discoveries it makes in this stage. You get a front row seat to your audience’s mind. It makes it easier to know what they are thinking and thus, what they actually want.
This is the only reason you need, but we have a few more
Traffic growth and customer acquisition
Identifying the proper keywords, leads to better content and thus better CTR. This results in improved traffic. Improved traffic also increases the chances of sales. Keyword research can grow your sales.
The difference between Keywords and Topics
Quick side note;
Sometimes we get this question. What is the difference between keywords and topics. It can get confusing and it is a common error for people to conflate the two. Basically the intent behind the Keyword forms the basis of a topic. A topic that can be used for example, a blog article.
Keyword research informs you of the topics that people care about.
Keyword Research Elements
Essentially there are three main elements to keep your eye on.
Remember the all important USER intent? This is where it comes in handy. Your content, and thus your website will only rank if it is relevant to the user’s intent.
What ever keyword that you end up using, you need to be an authority in that topic. You display this authority by providing helpful content that adds value. If you are lucky, you may get referenced as a source of more information and thus get the all important backlinks.
How many people are actually searching on the web for your selected keywords? It is fool hardy to bank on keywords that few people are searching for. Often it is measured in monthly search volumes, that means the number of times the keyword is searched for per month.
How to research Keywords
Finally we get to the meat portion of this article. I will give you the Keyword research process that we ourselves at Ahadisoft Group LLC use.
Step One: Make a list of relevant topics on what you deem important in your industry
Remember the bit about topics vs Keywords? Come up with 5 to 10 topics that you feel are important for your SAAS product. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What sorts of problems are they facing? What would your prospective SAAS customer search for to arrive at your solution? For example if you are providing a financial tracking tool, your list could have items like
- How to keep track of expenses
- How to keep track of receivables
- Financial tracking tools
- Best Financial Tracking tools
Notice how I use the word “how” a lot. This is fairly common behavior among internet users who are looking for a solution.
Another great solution is to find a competitor that is ranking really well and extract their keywords. You can find a great tool for that here => https://www.thehoth.com/keyword-extraction/
Then we get to the next step
Step Two: Extract the keywords from the topics and find their search volume
For example “How to keep track of expenses”, the keyword here is “keeping track of expenses”. You would then find the search volume for the keyword. There are so many tools you can use for this;
Some of the most popular keyword research tools include:
- Ahrefs – Really good
- SEMrush – Good
- Ubersuggest – Really Good
- Google Keyword Planner – Really Good And Free
- SECockpit – Decent
- Keywords Everywhere – Decent
- KeywordTool.io – Decent
- KWFinder – Decent
We won’t get into details here as we would need to explain all the tools. However you can contact us for further explanation.
Step three: Understand your user’s intent
It is not just a matter of finding keywords. You need to understand what was the original intent. Why did they use those specific combination of words. What were they looking for exactly? Do they want a guide on how to solve their problem. Or maybe they are looking for a ready built solution.
Don’t take keywords at face value. They can have many different meanings, cloaked in how they are used.
If you are struggling to get keywords, don’t be shy about using synonyms and paraphrases. When you search for something, generally at the bottom there are suggestions. You can use this to further populate your keyword list.
For example here the keyword is “financial planning tool”, so the related search terms at the bottom are;
So what are the best Keywords for SAAS SEO?
There are no best keywords for SEO, technically speaking, just those that are highly searched by you audience. And the ones they would respond best to. The best ones are the ones that take into consideration the elements mentioned above, relevance, authority and volume, simple.
Also keep in mind, you have to be realistic. You need to find keywords you can realistically compete for. Find your niche and dominate.
Also be sure to re-evaluate your keywords often based on the keyword elements, Relevance, authority and volume. These are like moving targets, they change really often.
These form the second aspect of our SAAS SEO framework. All the research in the world won’t help you if you make some crucial technical errors. So what do I mean by technical issues?
A big part of SEO is technical. It is imperative you understand the technical bits. Technical SEO, simply explained, is the process of ensuring a website meets the technical requirements of the search engines of today. There are some key stand alone elements;
- Website Architecture
More on the four in a bit,
At the most basic level, search engines need to be able to actually find, crawl and finally index your amazing website. But that is not all, your website needs to be 100% safe and secure to use. In addition to that, it needs to have original content.
There are two users of your website, the normal human user, and Google’s bot. If you make life easier for Google’s bot, you will get good ranking for your SAAS website.
There are several items you need to take into consideration when optimizing your technical SEO.
- Your website site structure and ease of navigation
- The performance of your website
- Crawling issues
- Duplicate content problems
How you organize you SAAS website forms the basis of technical SEO. There are three parts
- The actual app/software
- The landing pages
- The blog
Many issues that relate to crawling are as a result of poorly organized site structure. The website structure also influences a lot of things such as URLs and sitemaps.
Some people opt to host their app/saas software in a subdomain. For example, app.ahadisoft.com. This is a really good approach because it frees up the root domain for marketing purposes. As much as possible, try to have the marketing related pages on the root domain. Also you can have the blog directly on the root domain or, you can have it in a subdomain, like blog.ahadisoft.com.
The root domain, should be a landing page that explains the features and benefits of your amazing SAAS platform.
This mostly concern the non App/Software part of your internet infrastructure. That means the landing pages and the blog. A flat structure for navigation is really easy and intuitive to use.
Here a couple of tips to improve navigation of your webisite;
- Strive to make your hypertext obvious – If your website users can’t tell a link from the rest of your text, you have a problem. Make your links stand out by formatting it different. A different color maybe, underline or make it bold
- Put your navigation in a standard place – Your navigation bar should be where people expect it to be. Or rather where people expect to find it.
- Ensure your navigation is mobile friendly – Most of your visitors will be on mobile. So ensure that your website is easy to use on mobile
The performance of your website
Sometimes entire sections of your website of pages remain unseen by Google. This is a critical issue, but it can be remedied by checking the your meta tags and “robot.txt” file. For meta tags, you can check whether your code contains the following bit of code;
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />
Alternatively you can have an issue where your website is visible but Google has been instructed not to follow the links. Have a look at the code below;
<meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow”>
This means that the crawler cannot follow any of the pages on the link.
Robots.txt is the first thing that the Google crawlers look at. You have an issue when you see the following in the file;
This means that your pages are blocked from indexing.
Also, internal broken links not only present a bad experience for your users, but also they hinder the crawlers from doing their job.
Duplicate content problems
If your website pages are generated automatically of on the fly, there is a risk that some pages may be duplicates. This is sometimes an issue with custom content managers. Often times custom content management systems that auto post content. There may be a bug in the code that makes content to be posted more than once.
This is rare but its still an issue to look out for.
This is an important aspect for SEO for SAAS or for any other website out there. Content is king. You see, Google, all it is, is just a place where information is organized and easily accessible. Simple. Google’s main goal, is to give people useful information that they are looking for. You will only rank on Google, if you have useful information that people are looking for. Hence the need for content.
Content can take many forms. The most important issue as stated above is, ensuring that, you are proving valuable information. Let us go over the different forms of content.
Blogs and Articles
This means long form content in written format. These are popular because people still like to read. Plus it give the author a wonderful way of distilling key concepts in a manner that is easy to understand. For SEO for SAAS, blogs are crucial. Take a look at Hubspot for example or Oracle, content plays a huge role in getting people to know about your amazing SAAS platform. Those people are then easily converted to customers.
Here are some quick tips for blogs
- More is always better, strive for very long content. On average your post should be not less than 2000 words.
- Your blog should also be really easy to read and digest. Avoid big words. Also, stay away from references which other people may not understand
- Layout your information really well. Long blobs of texts are really hard to concentrate on. Its boring reading a blog or article that doesn’t have paragraphs or headers.
- Images and info graphs will work really well to convey you concepts. Sometimes all that is needed to convey a certain idea is a well designed info graph.
- You need to post regularly. People know that content leads to traffic, as such, everyone is posting a lot of content. The competition for traffic is just insane, this is more so in the SAAS world. There is no such thing as too much content.
Videos are the new it girl. Look at the rise of TikTok if you are in denial. But the odd thing is that videos have been around for a very long time, take YouTube for example. But it has seen a surge in the past few years.
Videos are handy because it is easy to explain a concept via talking rather than, writing. Plus its far easier to understand a concept via seeing it.
You may be asking, how does videos a video affect SEO?
Lets do a short experiment, I need you to type “how to do …”. Basically search for how to to anything, start a fire, fold clothes, wash a car;
I searched for how to start a fire and this is the result I got;
The first result was an article, the second result were these videos.
Videos have the capacity to rank really high on the SERP. The added benefit is that, you can shamelessly plug your SAAS platform in the video and get free brand awareness.
Here are some tips to get video right;
- Don’t make your videos longer than they ought to be. 10 minutes for an explanation video for example works really well.
- Audio is more important the the video itself. Make sure it is audible and people can clearly hear what the people in the video are saying. Invest in a good microphone first, before you even buy a camera
- Presentation matter. A disheveled looking host who seems untidy can be really off putting. Get a nice outfit, comb your hair. Pretend you are going for a job interview.
Let us go over the various types of videos that you can do:
These are exactly how they sound. They are videos meant to explain or elaborate on a certain topic. For SAAS purposes, these are going to be your staple content.
If you are a trusted source in your industry, this can work really well for you. This is because people want to hear your opinion. They want your take on matters affecting the industry. Take a look at people like Jason Lemkin of SAASTR.
Info graphs are a little known secret to SEO for SAAS. Let me explain what they are first. Essentially, they are like mini condensed information pack in image format. Take some data, explain the data using visual objects, all within one image and you have an info graph.
These are amazing at explaining bits of data and information. At a quick glance a person is able to digest the data that is presented to him/her.
So how do they affect SEO, other than being an amazing way to give people information, they rank well on Google’s image search.
Someone would search on Google, and they would get the Image as a SER (SEARH ENGINE RESULT). Also, they work really well on Pinterest. Once posted on Pinterest, they can help drive that Pinterest traffic to your website.
This is a significant traffic source for a lot of websites not just SAAS websites. Plus they are simple to create, all you need is an account on CANVA
You should definitely add info graphs to your content mix.
Now that you have done your keyword research, fixed your technical issues and created your amazing content, how do you distribute it? Or rather how do you get people to discover your content?
The best part about this is that the actual content distribution is actually free.
For written articles we highly recommend publishing them on your own blog. You blog could be hosted at a subdomain of your main domain, for example, blog.ahadisoft.com
WordPress is really the only tool that you need for writing and publishing content.
So what is WordPress exactly?
It is a free open source software platform that allow users to create blogs and publish them. It can be self hosted, that means you install it on your own server. WordPress powers 43% of the internet, that is a lot. It is popular because it just works. Plus anyone can easily learn and figure it out, you don’t have to be a developer.
Another free platform that you can use is YouTube
This is mostly for videos.
Some key things to keep in mind
Always publish your content regularly
I have explained this point earlier, but will continue to drum it in. There is a lot of competition. Everyone wants that coveted top Google Spot. You need to create a schedule that allows you to post content regularly
No such thing as too much content
Really, there is no such thing as too much content. This is because we consume content far quicker than we can create. And there are few people creating content. Take this for example, it would take you 3 hours to research and write an article that takes 10 minutes to read.
It takes 5 years to create a movie that is watched in two hours.
It is impossible to keep up with the demand for content. Thus you also need a schedule that allows you to create content in sufficient quantities.
Also, don’t create content for the sake of creating content. Take the time to figure out what people want to consume and focus on that. This is a big mistake people make, it ends up costing them precious time and effort.
The full power of SEO
The secret power of SEO if you do most of what we mentioned right, is that it is automatic. If you research your keywords well, create good content, resolve all the technical issues and then put your content out there for people to discover, people will discover you without you having to put any additional effort. You don’t need to spend money on ADS. Also, you don’t need to spend money on influencers.
Now that we have a good grasp of what SEO is all about, we can coalesce all that information into a workable, actionable strategy that you can implement today.
The strategy is very simple and am sure by now you may have an idea of what its all about.
We will break everything into stages
- Content Creation
- Content Discovery
- Customer Farming
We are not going to address the technical elements, as most of it is explained on the technical section.
As mentioned, SEO for SAAS is all about providing value to your potential customers in the form of good content.
I am going to assume that you already have the following;
- Domain name
- Blogging platforms
In this stage, you need to do a bit of research to figure out which content mediums your potential customers prefer. Some people enjoy videos, while some love in depth articles that cover their subject matter well.
After that, you need to do keyword research to find out,
- The key terminologies in your SAAS industry
- Popular buzzwords
- Frequently researched problems in your industry.
What you uncover in the research phase will form the basis of the kind of content you produce.
The Creation Part
This is the most taxing section. You are going to need to create the actual content. Often times, this is the most poorly executed section.
Whatever format you decide on, make sure to produce sufficient quantity of content. Also, focus on addressing frequently asked questions and how to guides.
- One well written 2000 word article per day
- A ten minute video per week
In addition to that, you will need to post info graphs and other visual content on social media.
If you get the technical part correct and your research is on the money, the content that you create will be relevant to your potential customers. Google will rotate your content and put it in front of the people that would be interested. That is the power of SEO for SAAS.
Often times, this takes a really long time. We are not joking. Google wants to see whether you have the staying power, so you are going to be in Google’s sandbox for quite a while. Don’t get discouraged.
Also, this is the part that makes SEO for SAAS really hard. There is no immediate feedback. You have to wait for a long time, to see whether your plan actually worked. This is why we often encourage people to work with experts who have already done it.
This is the waiting section.
After a period of time, be it one month or six months, you will see something incredible. People will start trickling onto your website. The best part is that, they will come without you having to spend money. These people will often times be interested in the content that you provide on your website. B
But converting them to customers isn’t straight forward.
You need to “massage” the process a bit. So there are some steps.
Collect customer information
Try to make sure that people on your website give you their contact information. This can be done via CTA forms.
Follow up with Email marketing
SEO is just a way of getting people to pay attention to you. Its not enough to get sales. To get sales, you are going to need to follow up with a drip feed email marketing campaign.
Offers, Offers and Offers
You are going to notice that even though a lot of people would benefit from your SAAS application, there is still the problem of status quo. Change is difficult. People like doing the same things they have been doing. A key tactic to encourage them to try you out, is making the offers so seductive and enticing that they break out of their mold and buy from you.
Keep providing value
Now that you have this person as a customer, you want them to keep buying from you. This means, you want them to keep paying you the recurring SAAS fee. You don’t want your competitors to steal your hard won customer.
This you do by delighting your customer. Going above and beyond. Essentially, exceeding expectations.
If you manage to keep your customers and reduce your churn, all while having cheap customer acquisition costs, you will have a profitable business.
I know this article promised you “secrets”. Inside information that you could use to destroy your competition. But we gave you a strategy that is very simple. But simplicity is a power on its own.
If is this simple, why doesn’t everyone do it?
The thing is, its not as simple as you make it. Finding out the issues and problems that your customers have, and providing solutions in the form of content isn’t easy. Creating relevant content that will delight your customers will take a lot of work.
In addition to that, it takes a long time to see whether it will work. This isn’t like software where feedback is almost immediate. In software you immediately know whether a bit of code worked or not, in SEO, it takes six months to a year to know whether the strategy is working.
The problem and the reason why everyone isn’t doing it is that there are no instant results. Along the way, people lose faith and turn to other short cuts or expensive strategies like ADs.
But we can guarantee that our strategy works. Because we have used it ourselves and we have been paid a lot of money to implement the strategy for other brands.
You can contact us here if you have any questions or need to see some case studies
Here is an SEO checklist for new websites
In case you don’t have time to read the entire article or you have a few questions, we have put together a small a FAQ section
How long does SEO take?
For the most part SEO takes a long time. 6 Months in the very least. Often times it takes an entire year to see results.
Is SEO a one off event?
No, Google changes its algorithm frequently. Because of this there is constant need for improvement and upgrades. Also, competition tends to increase.
Why does SEO take too long?
Its all about your expertise and authority on your website. It takes time to establish yourself as a key voice in your industry.
Also, Search Engines have gotten considerably smarter so simplistic/bad tactics like keyword stuffing, don’t work.
Should I do it myself or should I hire an expert?
My answer to this is to always do it yourself if and when able. However, there is a danger of getting it wrong because it takes a long time to be good at it. So at the end of the day, you have to decide what is the best use of your time?
How much does SEO cost?
We can only speak for ourselves here. Our SEO strategies can range from 750 USD to 2000 USD depending on the level of competition in your niche. However that is just a rough estimate. One would need to understand your current situation to come up with a more accurate figure.